The mission of Ocean Friendly Gardens program is to educate, train and support Surfrider members and the general public to prevent urban runoff and help restore urban watersheds by applying CPR© to their landscapes: Conserving water and energy, Permeating water into the soil, and Retaining rainwater on site. We welcome partnerships with government, non-profit organizations, landscape professionals, businesses and schools to accomplish this.
Urban runoff from gardens and hard surfaces is the #1 source of ocean pollution. In that runoff are pollutants such as:
- Synthetic fertilizers – increased nutrients leads to algal blooms and red tides, lowering dissolved oxygen levels enough to kill aquatic habitat and fisheries.
- Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides – poison humans, marine life and soil biology.
- Automobile engine oil, exhaust and brake pad dust as well as exhaust from utilities– poison marine life.
- Bacteria from animal poop – sicken humans and marine life, and can close beaches.
- Sediment (soil) – reduces clarity.
The first one inch of rain after a dry spell is called the “first flush,” and contains most of the pollutants during a rain storm. Traditional building codes have directed rain water off the property to prevent flooding of a site. But this runoff contributes to flooding of neighborhoods and erosion of stream banks. Runoff also happens during dry periods, known as dry-weather runoff, with sprinklers overwatering and overshooting the landscape.
But gardens and hard surfaces can prevent runoff and flooding, and still be beautiful, resourceful, and wildlife-friendly. How? Apply CPR to your property – Conservation, Permeability and Retention © – to revive our watersheds and oceans:
- Conservation of water, energy and habitat through native plants and climate adapted plants, spaced for mature growth (the same applies to vegetable and fruit gardens).
- Permeability through mulch and biologically active soil as well as using permeable materials for – or making cuts in existing – driveways, walkways and patios that allow water to percolate into the soil.
- Retention devices like rain chains, rain barrels and swales/dry stream beds soak up rain water in the soil for the dry season or store it to water veggies, preventing it from running off of the property.
The OFG blog (click on the “Blog” tab, above) has posts about OFG projects and Surfrider Chapter programs around the country as well as how-to tips for the do-it-yourselfers, or those who want to be better able to communicate with a professional. There are posts about how to:
- kill your lawn naturally by sheet mulching
- determine your soil type (helps with choosing the right plant) and see if the soil is compacted
- calculate rainwater harvesting potential and area needed to absorb it
- how to properly install a plant